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Today we mark the beginning of the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of our beloved Bapu. He remains a shining beacon of hope for millions of people across the world who seek a life of equality, dignity, inclusion and empowerment. The impact he left on human society has few parallels.

Mahatma Gandhi connected India, in letter and spirit, in thought and action. As Sardar Patel rightly said, “India is a land of diversity. If there was one person who brought everyone together, made people rise above differences, to fight colonialism and enhanced India’s stature at the world stage, it was Mahatma Gandhi.” In the 21st century, the thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi remain as essential as they were in his time and offer solutions to several problems the world faces. In a world where terrorism, radicalisation, extremism and mindless hate are dividing nations as well as societies, his clarion calls of peace and ahimsa have the power to unite humanity.

At a time when inequalities are not uncommon, Bapu’s emphasis on equal and inclusive growth can herald an era of prosperity for the millions on the margins. In an era where climate change and environmental degradation have become central issues of discussion, the world can refer to the thoughts of Gandhiji. More than a century ago, in 1909 he differentiated between human wants and human greed. He urged both restraint and compassion while utilising natural resources and, he himself led by example in doing this. He cleaned his own toilets, ensuring clean surroundings. He also ensured minimal wastage of water and when he was in Ahmedabad, he took great care to ensure that unclean water did not merge with the Sabarmati.

Sometime back, a crisp, comprehensive and concise document caught my attention. In 1941, Bapu wrote the ‘Constructive Programme: Its meaning and place’, which he subsequently modified in 1945, when there was renewed fervour around the freedom movement. In that document, Bapu has talked about a wide range of topics ranging across rural development, strengthening agriculture, enhancing sanitation, promoting Khadi, empowerment of women, economic equality among other issues.

I would urge my fellow Indians to have a look at Gandhiji’s ‘Constructive Programme’ and make it a guiding light on how we can build the India of Bapu’s dreams. Many topics are absolutely relevant today and the government of India is fulfilling many of the points venerable Bapu raised seven decades ago but remain unfulfilled even today.

One of the most beautiful aspects of Gandhiji’s personality was that he made every Indian feel that he or she is working for India’s freedom. He instilled the spirit of self-belief that a teacher, lawyer, doctor, farmer, labourer, entrepreneur, in whatever they were doing they were contributing to India’s freedom struggle. In the same light, today, let us embrace those aspects we think we can act upon that will fulfil Gandhiji’s vision. It can start with something as simple as ensuring zero waste of food to imbibing values of non-violence and togetherness.

Let us think about how our actions can contribute to a cleaner and greener environment for the future generations. Almost eight decades ago, when the threats of pollution were not as much, Gandhiji took to cycling. Those in Ahmedabad recall him cycling from Gujarat Vidyapith to Sabarmati Ashram. In fact, I read that one of Gandhiji’s first protests in South Africa was against a set of laws that prevented people from cycling. Despite a prosperous legal career, Gandhiji would use the bicycle to travel in Johannesburg. Can we emulate this same spirit today?

The festive season is here and people across India would be shopping for new clothes, gifts, food items and more. While doing so, remember the wise thoughts Gandhiji gave us in the form of his talisman. Let us think about how our actions can light the lamp of prosperity in the lives of our fellow Indians. By buying what they make, be it a khadi product, or a gift item or foodstuffs, we are helping our fellow Indians in pursuit of a better life. We may never have seen them or may not do so for the rest of our lives. However, Bapu would be proud of us that in our actions we are helping fellow Indians.

Over the last four years, 130 crore Indians have paid tributes to Mahatma Gandhi in the form of the Swachh Bharat Mission. Completing four years today, it has emerged as a vibrant mass movement with commendable outcomes. Over 85 million households now have access to toilets for the first time. Over 400 million Indians no longer have to defecate in the open. In a short span of four years, sanitation coverage is up from 39% to 95%. Twenty-one states, Union territories and 4.5 lakh villages are now open defecation free.

An overwhelming majority of Indians today did not have the good fortune of being a part of the freedom struggle. We could not die for the nation then but now, we must live for the nation and do everything possible to build the India our freedom fighters envisioned. Today we have a great opportunity to fulfil Bapu’s dream. We have covered substantial ground and I am confident we will cover a lot more in the times to come.

One of Bapu’s favourite hymns was “vaishnav jan to tene kahiye je, peer parayee jaane re,” which means “a good soul is one who feels the pain of others.” It was this spirit that made him live for others. Today, we, the 1.3 billion Indians are committed to working together to fulfil the dreams Bapu saw for a country for which he gave his life.

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પ્રધાનમંત્રીએ 76મા સ્વતંત્રતા દિવસના પ્રસંગે લાલ કિલ્લાની પ્રાચીર પરથી દેશને કરેલાં સંબોધનનો મૂળપાઠ

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પ્રધાનમંત્રીએ 76મા સ્વતંત્રતા દિવસના પ્રસંગે લાલ કિલ્લાની પ્રાચીર પરથી દેશને કરેલાં સંબોધનનો મૂળપાઠ
Unboxing the ‘export turnaround’ in India’s toy story

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Unboxing the ‘export turnaround’ in India’s toy story
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બાદલ સાહેબ આપણા દિલમાં જીવિત રહેશેઃ પીએમ મોદી
April 28, 2023
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On the evening of 25th April when I received the news of Sardar Parkash Singh Badal Ji’s demise, I was filled with immense sadness. In his passing away, I have lost a father figure, someone who guided me for decades. In ways more than one, he shaped India’s and Punjab’s politics that can be described as unparalleled.

That Badal Sahab was a big leader is widely accepted. But, more importantly, he was a big-hearted human being. Being a big leader is easier but being a big-hearted person requires a lot more. People across Punjab say - there was something very different about Badal Sahab! (‘Badal Sahab Ki Baat Alag Thi’)

It can be confidently said that Sardar Parkash Singh Badal Sahab ranks among the tallest Kisan Neta of our times. Agriculture was his real passion. Whenever he spoke on any occasion, his speeches were filled with facts, latest information and a lot of personal insight.

I got to closely interact with Badal Sahab in the 1990’s when I was involved in Party work in Northern India. Badal Sahab’s reputation preceded him - he was a political stalwart who had been Punjab’s youngest Chief Minister, a Union Cabinet Minister and someone who held sway over the hearts of crores of Punjabis across the world. I, on the other hand, was an ordinary Karyakarta. Yet, true to his nature, he never let this create a gap between us. He was filled with warmth and kindness. These were traits that remained with him till his last breath. Everyone who interacted closely with Badal Sahab would recall his wit and sense of humour.

In the mid and late 1990’s the political climate in Punjab was very different. The state had seen much turmoil and elections were due in 1997. Our Parties went to the people together and Badal Sahab was our leader. His credibility was a key reason that the people blessed us with a resounding win. Not only that, our alliance successfully won the Municipal Elections in Chandigarh and also the Lok Sabha seat in the city. His persona was such that our alliance went on to serve the state for 15 years between 1997 and 2017!

There is an anecdote I can never forget. After taking oath as CM, Badal Sahab told me that we would go to Amritsar together, where we would halt at night and the next day we would pray and have Langar. I was in my room at a guest house but, when he got to know of this, he came to my room and began to pick up my luggage. I asked him why is he doing this, to which he told me that I would have to come with him to the room meant for the CM and stay there only. I kept telling him that there is no need to do this but he insisted. Eventually, this is exactly what happened and Badal Sahab stayed in another room. I will always cherish this gesture of his towards a very ordinary Karyakarta like me.

Badal Sahab had a very special interest in Gaushalas and kept various cows. During one of our meetings, he told me that he had a desire to breed cows from Gir. I arranged 5 cows for him and after that, when we would meet, he would talk to me about the cows and also joke that those cows are Gujaratis in every way- they never get angry, agitated or attack anyone including when children are playing around. He would also remark that no wonder the Gujaratis are so gentle…after all they drink the milk of the cows of Gir.

After 2001, I got to interact with Badal Sahab in a different capacity - we were now Chief Ministers of our respective states.

I was blessed to receive Badal Sahab’s guidance on numerous issues, especially those related to agriculture including water conservation, animal husbandry and dairy. He was also someone who believed in tapping the potential of the diaspora, considering there are so many hardworking Punjabis settled overseas.

Once he told me that he wants to understand what Alang Shipyard is about. Then he came there and spent the entire day at Alang Shipyard and understood how recycling takes place. Punjab is not a coastal state so in a way, there was no direct relevance of a shipyard for him but such was his desire to learn new things that he spent the day there and understood different aspects of the sector.

I will always cherish his words of appreciation towards the Gujarat Government’s repair and restoration efforts of the holy Lakhpat Gurudwara in Kutch, which was damaged during the 2001 quake.

After the NDA Government came to power at the Centre in 2014, he once again provided valuable insights based on his rich governmental experience. He strongly supported several reforms including the historic GST.

I have highlighted just a few aspects of our interaction. At a larger level, his contribution to our nation is indelible. He was among the bravest soldiers for the restoration of democracy during the dark days of the Emergency. He himself suffered the high-handedness of the imperious Congress culture when his governments were dismissed. And, these experiences only made his belief in democracy stronger.

During the turbulent period of the 1970’s and 1980’s in Punjab Badal Sahab put Punjab First and India First. He steadfastly opposed any plan that would weaken India or compromise the interests of the people of Punjab even if it meant loss of power.

He was a man deeply committed to fulfilling the ideals of the great Guru Sahibs. He also made noteworthy efforts to preserve and celebrate the Sikh heritage. Who can also forget his role in ensuring justice for the riot victims of 1984?

Badal Sahab was a person who brought people together. He could work with leaders of all ideologies. Badal Sahab never associated any relationship with political gains or losses. This was particularly useful in furthering a spirit of national unity.

The void left by Badal Sahab’s demise will be tough to fill. Here was a statesman whose life witnessed many challenges but he overcame them and rose like a phoenix. He will be missed but he will live on in our hearts and he will also live on through the outstanding work he has done over decades.